Solway Sharks Ice Hockey Club


Match Report



This weekend the Magnox Ltd. Solway Sharks welcome the Telford Titans back to the Ice Bowl on Saturday night before heading off on the road to Billingham on Sunday for a crucial Northern Cup fixture against the Stars. Many supporters will remember the plucky performance that an extremely short-benched and inexperienced Telford side produced on their last visit to Dumfries and they way they held their heads high and claimed the St Andrew’s Cup on a pre-arranged penalty shootout. On Sunday the Sharks visit Billingham knowing that victory would leave them needing just a point at home to Blackburn to reach the cup final. However, should they lose this game Solway would then need to beat Blackburn by three goals or more to progress to the cup final. For supporters who would like to travel with the Sharks, the bus will leave the Ice Bowl at 1:30pm on Sunday and the fare will be just £10 not including rink entry. Face-off against Telford at Dumfries Ice Bowl on Saturday evening is at the usual time of 7pm.



Last Saturday the Solway Sharks, sponsored by Magnox Ltd, welcomed old friends and rivals the Sutton Sting to the Shark Tank and produced a measured performance that eventually saw them run out winners by five goals to two.

After a cagy start the game swung into life in the third minute when good work on the boards by Ross Murray gave Stevie Moore the chance to flash a pass across the face of goal where it was met by the ever-improving Joe Coulter but his redirection was well saved by Zimozdra in the Sutton goal. Suddenly play was swinging from end to end and Adam Robinson progressed down the middle and forced a save from Gary Russell before Frazer Goldie was robbed of a counter by the swift reactions of Zimozdra. The Sharks eventually broke the deadlock in the ninth minute when a Craig Thurston pass sent Pavol Melichercik surging through the centre. The Slovakian marksman pushed his shot wide of the target but he was alert enough to skate around the Sutton goal, collect possession and pass perfectly for Iain Bowie to convert from close range.


Three minutes later the Solway sniper added his second goal of the evening when he collected another Melichercik pass in the slot, pulled to his right and beat Zimozdra with a neat back-handed shot at the keeper’s near post. The Sting were desperate for the points that would help them in their quest to return to Dumfries for next month’s NIHL Play-Off weekend and upped their play employing a more aggressive fore-checking game plan. Two minutes from the first interval it paid dividends when Gary Russell could only parry Thomas Stuart-Dant’s shot into the path of Adam Robinson. The Sharks complained that their netminder had been impeded in the build-up to the goal but the officials were unimpressed and impartial observers might have pointed out that the Sutton goal was clearly off its moorings when the Sharks opened the scoring.


Supporters of both teams must have been expecting the tempo and intensity of the game to rise as the second period began but instead it soon settled into hockey’s equivalent of a midfield battle with plenty of effort from both sides but precious few scoring opportunities. Scoring chances may have been at a premium but the two goals that the supporters saw were of the highest calibre. In the twenty-sixth minute Bob Chalmers rolled back the clock when he collected a pass deep in his own defensive area, sped up the left wing and rifled a superb wrist shot into the smallest of gaps just under the crossbar. Sutton were not to be undone and three minutes from the second break Simon Butterworh and Robert Streetly combined on the left for veteran D-man Matt Jeffcock to convert with an equally impressive shot.


Everything was still to play for when the players returned to the ice for the third period but within a minute Stevie Moore had eased the home supporters nerves. Sutton should have cleared their lines but the ever-alert Moore pounced on a weak pass and drew the puck across the keeper before lifting a deft back-handed shot back over the keeper and into the net. Sutton never stopped trying to force their way back into the game but the Sharks had their two goal cushion and they never once took their eyes off the prize as they generally controlled possession and territory throughout the final session. All that was left was for the home side to wrap up the scoring with a powerplay goal five minutes from time. Iain Bowie won a face-off to the right of the Sutton goal and Juraj Senko looked up to spot Struan Tonnar drifting into free ice in the slot. When the pass came Tonnar’s way he wasted no time in dispatching the puck into the roof of the Sting goal to conclude the scoring at Sharks five Sutton two.


Scoring statistics for the Sharks were as follows: Iain Bowie two goals and one assist, Bob Chalmers, Struan Tonnar and Stevie Moore all 1+0, Juraj Senko and Pavol Melichercik both 0+2, Connor Henderson and Craig Thurston both 0+1. Netminder Gary Russell saved twenty-six of the twenty-eight shots that he faced (save percentage 92.86%). The Alive Radio Man of the Match Awards were presented to Iain Bowie for the Sharks and to Chris Sykes for the visitors.


On Sunday a short-benched Magnox Ltd. Solway Sharks travelled down to Blackburn to play the Hawks in a fixture that many believed to be insignificant. The Sharks had the league tied up and the Hawks were guaranteed second place so what was there to play for? With a possible meeting in next month’s NIHL Play-Off Weekend in Dumfries next month and a crucial cup match in three weeks time the Sharks knew that this fixture was all about momentum and gaining a psychological advantage over your opponent. With this firmly set in their mind they produced a perfect road game to record a four-two victory while their opponents turned into “flappy birds”.


Having succumbed to Blackburn on their previous three visits Solway were eager to get off to a good start on Sunday evening but they could little hope for the opening they created. With just three minutes on the clock Ross Murray collected possession at centre ice and immediately found Joe Coulter on the right wing. The Solway youngster has shown steady improvement this season thanks to greater ice time and to the support of the Holywood Trust. Realising he had time, Coulter looked up and spotted Stevie Moore moving into the danger area and laid off a perfect pass for the latter to stroke home the opener from the slot. Three minutes later the Sharks doubled their advantage with Moore again the scorer when he was quick to pounce on the rebound from Ross Murray’s snap shot to score from the low slot.


Games against Blackburn have been physical encounters of late and Solway must have been expecting the same again but on the night the home side seemed strangely subdued and unable to rise to the heights that we’ve come to expect from them. That, however, may have been largely down to the way the Sharks carried out coach Grubb’s game plan. The only real danger to the Solway defence seemed to be coming through Adam Brittle and on the thirteen minute mark he forced Gary Russell into making an incredible glove save at his near post to maintain the two goal advantage.

However, the Sharks stopper could do nothing to prevent Brittle from putting the home side on the scoreboard two minutes later when he had the relatively simple task of slotting home the rebound from close range after Gary Russell had made another good block from Jared Owen’s shot. The large, eight hundred plus crowd, were still on their feet celebrating twenty-three seconds later when Struan Tonnar stunned them into silence. Juraj Senko and Craig Mitchell combined to set Tonnar on his way from deep inside Sharks territory and the power forward ploughed straight through the centre of the Hawks defence before unleashing a superb shot into the roof of the net.


The second period began with the promise that it would turn into a cracker but in the end the Sharks played out their game plan to perfection and while they had to suck up periods of pressure their opponents never really looked like scoring. The only blemish came with six minutes remaining in the session when minor penalties on Ross Murray for delay of game and Craig Mitchell for slashing gave the Hawks a five-on-three man powerplay. Within seconds Gary Russell again showed his class with an incredible glove save to deny Adam Brittle but this was where his luck was to end. From the restart Owen fed the puck inside to Brittle who was again denied by Russell but this time the rebound fell kindly for Jonathan Adams to convert from close range. For the remainder of the period the home side tried to raise their game but the Solway defence remained resolute and the second interval arrived with the Sharks three-two ahead.


The final session played out much as the previous period had with the concerted onslaught on Gary Russell’s goal never really coming to fruition and the only real incident of note may have further reaching consequences for the home side. As the period progressed the Hawks were becoming more and more frustrated and this was to boil over when a minor penalty was called on David Meikle for hooking with the clock showing 51:11. Probably the least said about this the better but suffice to say the Blackburn’s import player Jonathan Adams suffered a total meltdown that saw him receive a total of fifty-five minutes of penalties including a rarely seen Travesty of Game. One can only hope that we will never see a referee subjected to such a barrage of physical and verbal abuse in the Shark Tank. When Blackburn’s tempers cooled the Sharks were on a powerplay and it didn’t take Bob Chalmers and James Wallace long to work the puck back to Juraj Senko on the Blackburn blueline from where the big D-man unleashed a trademark slapshot that flew into the roof of the Hawks net ensuring that there would be no last minute jitters for the Sharks supporters.


Scoring statistics for the Sharks were as follows: Stevie Moore two goals and no assists, Juraj Senko 1+1, Struan Tonnar 1+0, Ross Murray 0+2, Bob Chalmers, James Wallace, Craig Mitchell and Joe Coulter. Gery Russell in the Sharks goal saved twenty-one of the twenty-three shots that he faced (save percentage 91.30%) Stevie Moore was named the Sharks Man of the Match.


Latest Articles